School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Rebecca S Harrison


Critical Thinking Skills, Gifted Education, Middle School, Primary Sources, Social Studies Education


Education | Gifted Education


Gifted education, although having been a part of the United States educational fabric since the early 1900s, has various definitions and programs throughout the nation. Many gifted students are being placed in regular education programs without consideration of their needs. In 1991 Wineburg began researching and proposing using primary sources for analyzing and research skills in social studies classrooms as a possible way to meet the needs of gifted students while teaching problem solving and critical thinking skills. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to discover two connected concepts: The perception middle school social studies teachers' have toward critical thinking skills and the development of critical thinking skills in gifted students, particularly through the use of primary sources. This phenomenon was researched with the cooperation of nine participants in a medium sized school district in South Carolina. Among the nine participants, three are National Board certified, two are endorsed for gifted education through the South Carolina Department of Education, and their teaching experience varied from one to twenty years. Using the constant comparative method, data were collected through survey, interviews, and classroom observations. The data indicated that these middle school social studies teachers had knowledge of and utilized primary sources to develop critical thinking skills even though they had not previously defined the concept. However, they were lacking professional development and knowledge of gifted students' needs in the classroom.